The Deal: Charlotte rockers release The Ruthless Workings of Nature, follow-up to 2001's Laguna Negra.
The Good: The band has survived a handful of lineup changes – currently singer Leahanne Woods-Smith, guitarist Andy Cauble, drummer Thomas Whitley, guitarist Rob Tavaglione and bassist Asher Griffis – since it first formed in 2001. There's a raw edge here – nothing should be polished in metal, anyway. The higher tone of Woods-Smith's vocals make an interesting dichotomy against the distorted riffs of music. While the disc gets off to a rough start, "Escape Through Dreamholes," is a fine reprieve that sets off the rest of the album – changing speeds, varying vocals, solid songwriting. "Caught In" was another highlight. Woods-Smith showcases her vocal talent on "Ella Es La Voz De La Diosa" and on the slowed down "Spotted Scattered Existence."
The Bad: There are catchy riffs, good beats/grooves, but I often found myself getting tripped up by lyrical speed bumps which were distracting at times – "Amelia Earheart she flew her flying machine/She flew over the great blue/She flew over the Bermuda Triangle/She had disappeared" from "Disappear" – and impossible to understand at others, such as the chorus of "Follow" which says, "Follow the ???" The album's two weakest tracks, in my opinion, kick off the disc.
The Verdict: Don't take a female-fronted hard rock band to equal Evanescence. A shame my bad comments come from the first two songs – the rest of the album was an improvement. Having seen the band at CarnEvil, I can say the band's live performance is a step up from the recorded version. (Hear "Disappear" online at charlotte.creativeloafing.com)